Have you ever seen a sweet custom car roaring down the street? How about a really lame custom car that makes you cringe? People have been modifying production cars for what feels like forever and it has resulted in some amazing creations. Some modded cars are incredible, especially restoration and performance-based projects. However, not all custom car builds are equal, as some builds end up being laughable, either due to poor direction, lack of funds or just bad taste. I've collected a list of 12 awesome modded car builds and 13 that will leave you wondering why it was built.
Many of these cars were built by teams of mechanics, while others were personal projects for a few dedicated motor hobbyists. Car builds like these are an absolute ton of work and many of these builds have been in the shop for years, so to see all that work end in a lackluster payoff is...disheartening. The best builds include superiority in all aspects: appeal, power, and creativity. Lots of these builds are turbo or supercharged and have been tuned to tear up the track, while others are all about style. And then of course, there are plenty that left me scratching my head saying, "why would someone do that to their car?"
I will say though, while the car build fails on this list aren't in my taste, it is an incredible showcase of how creative people can be when it comes to modification. I mean, these cars are one of a kind...too bad so many of them are ugly and obnoxious.
Without further ado, let's start.
25 Subaru BRZ “STi”
A Subaru technician by the name of Nguyen Le, in his spare time, built his stock Subaru BRZ into something amazing: a “Subaru BRZ STi.” Now, this model doesn’t quite exist, as the STi badge is usually reserved or the WRX series, but because Le added a turbo, as well a series of other mods, it makes a powerful build that should be on the Subaru production line. Featured on YouTube by Fonz Media, the gorgeous sports car sits low, with a series of amazing mods, both aesthetic and mechanical. I applaud Le for his work, as his dedication to learning Subarus is both impressive and inspiring. This man lives and breathes Subaru, resulting in a seriously talented build.
24 Turbocharged Volkswagen GTI Mk1
Much like the Datsun 510, the old Volkswagen Golf models, like the GTI Mk1, can be modified to be absolute speed demons. This one in particular is a turbocharged model, with a series of other mods as well, that was built by a user on the Club GTI forums.
This old GTI is now equipped with racing parts, a roll cage, wide-set wheels and gorgeous red bucket seats that match the rest of the coloring.
The owner did all of the bodywork as well as engine work to complete the build and has truly thought through every aspect in depth: no decision in this design was made on impulse.
23 Supercharged Dodge Challenger
Normally, I’d disagree with buying a V6 Challenger, because why not buy the V8 right? Well in the case of this Challenger, my mind was changed, as the V6 engine has been supercharged, making this Dodge an absolute American powerhouse. Reviewed by The Dutch Texan on YouTube, this car whines as it flies down the street due to the loud, monstrous supercharger which puts the engine well over 400 horsepower. Aside from that, the paint and aesthetic of the car are incredible: the carbon fiber hood makes brings the front end of this Camero together and the vibrant red paint truly marks it as a sports car.
22 V8 Swapped BMW E30
Dubbed “Widow Maker,” this 800 horsepower BMW E30 is a restored relic that is much like the Miata I mentioned earlier. This BMW has been engine swapped with a V8, putting some serious punch in this little package, which has been built with a keen eye.
The car looks gorgeous: the blacked out design is stealthy, menacing and would drop jaws at any car meet.
It was featured by Car Throttle on YouTube, offering some background information surrounding the custom build: the owner, Ross Bradley, spent 10 years building this E30 and has loved the car like a child. It really is an incredible build ad something that Bradley deserves to be proud of.
21 Turbocharged Subaru WRX Hatchback
The limited hatchback models of the Subaru WRX are some of my favorite cars on the planet: the stock design is so clean and when it’s modified, even just a little bit, it can make the transition from being tasteful to being elegant. This particular WRX is heavily customized, using a turbocharged engine that can output 450 horsepower and in popular YouTuber Tj Hunt’s video, the car makes a name for itself as it roars down the streets. The owner did some incredible, mute appearance modifications as well, making the car clean and attractive. All I can say is, I wish this car was in my garage.
20 Supercharged Toyota Tacoma X-Runner
This stunning, cherry apple red Toyota Tacoma X-Runner is a beast that can tear down the street thanks to its supercharged, 350 horsepower engine.
This pickup also has a series of performance upgrades, as well as body modifications that make this vehicle an amazing car build.
The custom front end looks awesome and the entire flow and design of this car are gorgeous, complete with fog lights and a visible radiator. I don't know if I would have gone with such a vibrant red, but nevertheless, this X-Runner is an awesome build that needed to be on this list.
19 Supercharged Honda S2000
The Honda S2000 isn't still in production today and amazing builds like this one make me wish it still was. This gorgeous, supercharged S2000 is a custom build fit for any garage, as it's been tastefully modified to be a sleek, aggressive sports car. The appearance is stealthy, especially the wide-body kit that takes the regular S2000 design from sports car to supercar. It can output almost double the stock horsepower of the S2000, thanks to its supercharger and other modifications. The spoiler might be a little bit out of my taste range, but the entire build is amazing nonetheless.
18 Turbocharged Lancer Evo
Named "Wifey", this ultimate Lancer build is a testament to the Evo IX's amazing ability. I feel like most of the time, Mitsubishi builds fly under the radar, as many people forget about gems like the Lancer Evo.
This build is turbocharged and heavily modified, with a list of aftermarket parts that come together to output 520 horsepower.
Not everyone is a fan of the rally style of cars like the Lancer or WRX, but even with the huge wing on the trunk, I think this Evo IX is an amazing build made for true speed demons.
17 Toyota Supra Mk3
The Toyota Supra Mk3 is a JDM street racing legend, equipped with the powerhouse 1jz engine and this particular build has an extensive list of modifications. The engine is turbocharged and can output a staggering 680 horsepower and was built using top of the line performance parts. The car was featured on YouTube by REC Tuned, who gave an exhaustive list of modifications, most notably, a complete HKS 4" exhaust system, Aeromotive fuel pumps and a Borin intake manifold. I love the retro JDM cars, the Supra included and this build has got to be one of my favorite.
16 Acura NSX
A product of Clarion Builds, this Acura NSX is a gorgeous custom build that involves an engine swap and an added supercharger.
The Smoking Tire showcased the car and gave some backstory: the original car had over 200,000 miles on it, so the engine was swapped with another NSX engine from a later model that is 3.2L, outputting over 400 horsepower (with the supercharger of course).
The bodywork, interior, and exterior was also restored, creating a beautiful ride with some serious power under the hood. It's amazing to see a 90s sport car relic like this one, brought back to its original glory and beefed up to keep up with newer cars.
15 Rusted Honda Accord Hatchback
While I respect the vision of this build, this slammed and rusted Honda Accord Hatchback is less than appealing. Kind of like a JDM meets Mad Max build, this car is the result of owners who really wanted to make something that was different. I think that somewhere the vision was lost, as the car would have been much cooler as a lifted off-roader, something that would actually be useful in the post-apocalyptic world, not a cambered sedan. I should note, I think the rust paint job is really original, so while this build could have gone better, at least it's unique.
14 Turbocharged Datsun 510
The Datsun 510 is one of my favorite cars: the old style is compact and when it is modded like this one, it sure makes for a zippy ride. It was featured on an episode of /TUNED, reporting the engine to be a turbocharged SR20, outputting about 400 horsepower.
Considering the curb weight of the 510, it's safe to say that this thing is basically a 400 horsepower go-cart.
Aside from the mechanics, this 510 has a beautiful stance, paint job and revamped look when thinking about the age of the car. This is definitely one throwback build that I would want in my garage.
13 V8 Swapped Miata MX-5
It seems there is quite the trend to swap the engines of Miatas, both old and new, with LS V8 engines, doubling the cylinder count of the little sports car. You can see this thing on the road via YouTube, as it was featured by The Smoking Tire. Boasting 6.2L, the swapped engine outputs 520 horsepower, creating for a fast build that will leave other cars in the dust, somewhat unusual for the Miata, considering its stock 4 cylinder engine. This build in particular is amazing because it not only has some serious power, it has an amazing design and paint job that looks absolutely incredible. Truly an incredible build for Mazda's little Sunday car.
12 Cambered Toyota 86
Camber, to some degree, is alright, but cambering your wheels to the point where half of the tire isn't touching the ground is just too much. In my opinion, this Toyota 86 is just too slammed; it's not tasteful or practical.
Moreover, the loss of traction in an RWD car like the Toyota 86 is crucial to its performance, so I can help but wonder, to what degree this 86 is held back by the cambered tires?
Everything about this car is wrong, even down to the flared exhaust tips. It's a shame too, because the FRS platform is amazing and seeing distastefully modded versions make a bad name for the other gearheads who are making great builds.
11 Burnt Orange Civic
Lowered beyond belief and complete with an out of place roof rack, this Honda Civic build is distastefully modified to the point of no return. From the spoiler bill to the camber, this build looks like an attempt to make the Civic look like a tricked out BMW, but ends up looking rather trashy. Even the color, a sort of burnt orange, isn't appealing. I feel bad ripping on the car though, as the owner, Henry Vela, is a hardworking and inspired mechanic. He was a hardworking student with a slightly modified car and a dream, which he fulfilled finally with this Civic build. But, unfortunately, even that can't change the distasteful state of this Civic.
10 Distasteful Nissan GTR
Can a paint job utterly ruin a custom build? If this were a trial, I would introduce this GTR as a key piece of evidence for the prosecution, as the silver pinstripes and styling make it unpalatable.
It's too bad because this engine build puts out over 850 horsepower and would have otherwise been an amazing custom sports car.
I really don't know who made the final decision about the paint job for this GTR, but I don't see how anyone would think that outlined silver pinstripes was a good idea, in fact, I would sacrifice half the horsepower to have a paint job that was less distasteful.
9 Tron-Styled BMW Z3
I don't know what would inspire someone to do this to their car. Matte black is already a hard color to pull off, but the added yellow Tron stripes are completely unnecessary. Even just removing those would help this car, as the BMW color themed stripes aren't that bad on their own. Its a shame too, because the Z series are some seriously awesome convertibles.
The matching tire pinstripe is the true icing on the cake though, as I'm almost positive the paint is actually on the tire and not the rim, meaning it'd have to be repainted every time the car needed new tires. If that's not laughable, then I really don't know what is.
8 Blue Rimmed Chevrolet Cobalt
Silver is my least favorite color on cars, it just never looks good, especially when paired with light blue rims. This Dodge Cobalt (pun intended), is a custom build that features some questionable visual upgrades. Ignoring the hilarious rim paint, the added Dodge racing stripes alone would make me cringe.
If you look closely at the picture, you can even see a spoiler on the back, which truly brings the entire package together.
I will say though, the Cobalt is somewhat of a rare sight to see when it comes to custom builds, probably due to the general unpopularity it has, but either way, this particular Cobalt is not winning any awesomeness awards.
7 Neon Green Nissan S15
This car is, in my book, a double whammy, considering the neon green paint job and the lame camber. It gives the elegant Nissan S15 a bad look, which is a shame, as it already an overlooked gem from 90s JDM scene. In fact, I don't see builds on this platform very often so while it is nice to see a custom build like this, its a shame that this build is so unattractive. The color is so flashy and while the car looks menacing, its stance makes it less than optimal for street racing. The camber isn't needed and this S15 could look so much classier had the owner gone a different direction with the design.
6 Nyan Cat Ferrari
I've seen plenty of ridiculous paint jobs on different super cars, usually done by super stars, but this one is a little bit different. In reference to the famous internet video Nyan Cat, this Ferrari has a popping sky blue and rainbow paint job that was applied out of revenge.
The car's owner, EDM artist Deadmau5, painted the car and publicized it in order to get back at Ferrari because of their bad service.
The artist even went as far as to replace the badges on the car with custom badges that mocked Ferrari. Ferrari's response: a cease and desist letter, which is no laughing matter. Nonetheless, this custom paint job is definitely less than tasteful.
5 Hot Wheels Nissan 350z
I'm already not a huge fan of the 350z convertible design, so a white one with lime green rims and an oversized spoiler was a prime target for this list. I think this particular build looks like something you'd find in a Hot Wheels set, in fact, the owner should just add flame decals to complete the already comical design of the car. The car appears to be lowered, probably on cut springs, as I imagine the budget for this custom build didn't allow for coil overs, which just adds to the hilarity of the car. Modding correctly doesn't just mean the car works, it means the car works and its mechanical components are healthy, including the suspension.
4 Bedazzled Porsche 356
This twinkling Porsche 356 was shown at SEMA 2015 and it is...a questionable design at least. This travesty is a waste of a vintage European racing legend, as the design is flashy and ridiculous.
Moreover, making a car look like this means it will be an inconvenience to drive, as there is no way the bedazzling material will withstand the wear and tear of driving.
But of course, I can't knock it too much as SEMA seems to be the auto show made for all of the craziest, wackiest and most outlandish car builds. I think if I ever saw this driving down the road, I'd reach for my sunglasses as soon as possible, to avoid permanent eye damage.
3 Superman Chrysler
As if the Chrysler 300 wasn't already an ugly enough car, this heavily modified, Superman themed build made it even uglier. It comes complete with goofy "Lambo" doors and big shiny rims. It's another one of those cars that could be a toy, as it looks so comically ridiculous, I couldn't imagine anyone actually rolling around in a car with a paint job like that. But I guess that makes sense, considering it was a car showcased at SEMA 2015. Either way, this is definitely one car build that I would send back to the garage for a do over.
2 Air Bagged Toyota Tacoma
Hot pink and resting on bags, this tricked out Toyota Tacoma build is an ugly and lame custom build. Airbag suspension systems are an amazing piece of car technology, but really should be reserved for high-end sports cars, like Nissan GTRs and Lamborghinis.
The lowered pickup look just isn't appealing and the addition of a hot pink paint job doesn't make it any better.
I will admit, the interior, which is lined with black leather, does look pretty good, but it can't save this build. At least this will make a seriously flashy Sunday cruiser, as there's not much use for this build other than turning heads and attracting photos.
1 All American PT Cruiser
I'm all for a little patriotism and I guess considering it's a Chrysler, the paint matches the manufacturer, but this "All American" paint job is way overboard. The Chevrolet PT Cruiser is already one of the automobile industry's ugliest cars, but this paint job takes it to another level, as the design makes me question the sanity of the owner. I'm assuming someone paid a lot of money for this car to be painted, which to me is absolutely insane. I admit, the craftsmanship that went into this paint job was expert, just maybe better suited for a canvas rather than a PT Cruiser.
Sources: Truck Trend, Nico Club Forums, Stance Nation, Pasmag, YouTube, Speed Hunters, Autoglide, Jalopnik, Club GTI